Integral Yoga - Articles

History of Yoga

There is a larger perspective in the context of which the theme of Yoga stands out as a subject of great contemporary relevance. That larger perspective is that of the acute crisis through which humankind is passing today. This crisis has arisen, it seems, from the fact that, while on the one hand, it does not seem unlikely that we may succeed in creating a system of life, practically covering the whole globe, which can provide to human beings means and materials to satisfy hedonistic, selfish and egoistic wants on such a scale that, for quite a long indefinite period, humankind might remain chained to circles of lower life marked by hunger and satisfaction, strife and success, and perils of small and great disasters, and yet, on the other hand, the upward human aspiration to build individual and collective life on the basis of mutuality and harmony, of peace and concord, and ever-increasing perfectibility of our highest potentialities must continue to struggle without any sound promise of its eventual fulfilment. In other words, while there is an upward endeavour to break the vicious circle of our present vitalism or economic barbarism, this very endeavour has come to be partly discouraged by the scientist by his demand to provide physical proof of the supraphysical and partly blocked by the religionist by his refusal to look beyond dogma and the revealed word of the past, and has thus come to be rendered unequal to its tasks.

The vicious circle can be broken only if our upward endeavour can get unmixed positive support from science and only if the moral and spiritual foundations can be strengthened and made increasingly unshakable.

This is the real issue.

It has been contented that all true knowledge belongs to science and can be acquired only by scientific methods. Morality, it is argued, is a matter of emotional responses which are themselves relative and carry no authenticity of knowledge in their contents or in their foundations. As far as spirituality is concerned, it is argued that its claims in regard to its insights, intuitions, revelations and other allied operations of knowledge are at the best occasional flashes, somewhat like conjectures which may sometime hit the truth but which escape from any systematic scrutiny by means of criteria that can confidently be applied in any impartial search of validity of knowledge. It is, therefore, concluded that spirituality is a field of light and shadow

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